If you like Calo Chia and getting caught in the rain
5/21/2019 - 5/29/2019
Namaste friends and family!
Since we last updated you, our clothes have seen some dirt, our tan lines have grown more prominent and our tummy‘s are full of Dahl-Baht (lentils-rice).
We started the week traveling to Kalinchowk. For context, Kalinchowk is the community we have been working in for the last few years, specifically at the Balodaya School. In Kalinchowk over the past two years, our team has implemented a water distribution system and assessed for a menstrual hygiene management (MHM) latrine. During our winter trip, the team made the decision not to implement the MHM latrine. Even more recently, the team made the difficult decision to change communities altogether, largely due to road safety concerns during the monsoon season and limited presence of our local NGO partner, NCDC. We traveled to Kalinchowk one final time, to monitor and evaluate the water system and close out our partnership with the community.
Last Tuesday we left Dhulikel and traveled by Jeep to Charikot, an intermediate stop before Kalinchowk. The 6 hour Jeep ride through rural Nepal was as beautiful as it was bumpy. The eye pleasing mountain scenery goes hand in hand with some butt destroying rugged terrain.
(Picture on side of road)
The next day we were woken up unexpectedly early to have a meeting with the mayor of the Kalinchowk Rural municipality at our hotel. With the mayor, we discussed our team’s history and the future of our projects. We talked about the process of development and explained why our team chose to move out of Kalinchowk.
The next morning we took another (somehow even bumpier) jeep ride from Charikot to Kalinchowk. After getting settled in our homestays, we hiked up to Balodaya School to look at our water system and speak to the faculty. Sitting in the schools office, we had to explain the difficulties we had working in this community, as well as the road safety concerns.
Explaining to the teachers why we are leaving was difficult and emotionally draining. We have to sincerely thank our mentor Mike for articulating our team’s position to the teachers. We found that when you are halfway around the world, it is easy to list all the reasons we are leaving and feel it is the right decision. But when the teachers and children that our decision directly impacts are standing directly in front of you and begging you to stay, the same logic is harder to reconcile with emotions.
We left the school that afternoon feeling discouraged. There is a definite need in this community, but it is also an undeniably challenging community to work in for a student group like EWB. We spent the rest of the afternoon talking with our mentors about the inherent problems of EWB and the general difficulties of international development work. Mike reminded the team to not let the perfect become the enemy of the good. As a student run organization that travels to a country twice a year, we have to be aware of the limitations of our team, but also pursue projects that will truly benefit a community.
We talked about how EWB projects need to fill a specific niche, and unfortunately, at the moment, Kalinchowk does not fill that niche. Fortunately, NCDC will continue working in Kalinchowk including sustainable agriculture and a water distribution system.
One of the most important parts of EWB is learning from our mistakes and growing as people and as a chapter. The rest of the summer will be spent assessing for a new project in the eastern side of Nepal and the whole team is more motivated than ever to take the lessons we learned in Kalinchowk and apply them to help us find a project that will be sustainable.
On Friday we held workshops at the school and officially closed out our community partnership and monitored the water system. Bhupal conducted his usual WASH presentation at the school and it was really cool to see that kids remembered the 7 steps to hand washing that he has taught in the past. With the help of Bhupal and Madhu translating, the travel team gave presentations on the water cycle and the school system in America. It was incredible to see the kids so engaged in our presentations.
We also had time to conduct interviews with some of the teachers and faculty to get a better understanding of the functionality and maintenance of the water distribution system. The system is functional to their needs and the students enjoy and value the project. There are some general maintenance and repairs that should be conducted to ensure the long term sustainability of the project but in general, the project is still a success!
After a full day of hard work, I think everyone was ready to head back to the homestay to eat some well earned Dahl Baht.
Saturday was EWB’s last full day in Kalinchowk. We watched community members construct home tap stands as a part of NCDC’s neighborhood water distribution project. Noah Kaiser retrofitted several tap stands with improved faucets to help reduce water waste. After the tap stands where constructed we played hacky sack and Kendama as the sun set.
At night the Kalinchowk’s NCDC employees hosted us for a delicious farewell dinner of chicken, cauliflower, and beaten rice.
The next morning, we returned to Charikot via Dolakha district’s infamous rocky roads. We intended to leave for Ilam on Monday, however road closures due to protests delayed our travel. We spent all of Monday working on paperwork, relaxing, walking through the bazaar, and visiting the Charikot NCDC office.
On Tuesday morning, our Jeep arrived at 4:00am and our 16 hour journey to Ilam began. We stopped several times along the way, getting to experience the roadside roti (vegetables and dahl with flatbread) and the muggy terrai sun. We even got to share samosas with Bhupal’s wife (informally known as Bhupal’s wifi) in Birtamoda.
On Wednesday, we visited NCDC’s Ilam headquarters to plan our project assessment work in Namsaling (Wards 3 and 4 of the Maijogmai Rural Municipality). We then traveled to our homestay in Namsaling, where we will be living for the next several weeks. After many miles in crowded jeep rides, it feels good to set our bags down and plant some roots, at least for now.
Thursday we finally got out in the field and got a good look at our team’s potential next project! We walked down to Hatitar, a village in Maijogmai which NCDC wants is to work in. We hiked up to the spring source and spent about two hours putting our surveying skills to use.